Investigators Still Looking into How Non-Airport Employee Got onto Runway

May 12, 2020

Local and federal officials are still investigating how a man, who was not an Austin-Bergstrom International Airport employee, got onto a runway last week where he was killed by a landing airliner.

The man was found dead Thursday night by the driver of an airport operations vehicle after the pilots of Southwest Airlines Flight 1392 reported seeing a person on the runway while landing.

Austin police responded to the runway at 8:16 p.m. The man, who has not been identified, was pronounced dead at 8:41 p.m.

The Southwest flight had 53 passengers and five crew members, airport spokesperson Bryce Dubee said. The aircraft was a Boeing 737.

The man did not have a security badge, which would have granted him access to the secure side of the airport, Dubee said.

Austin Department of Aviation employees, or someone who works for an airline or concession would have a badge, Dubee said.

The man was also not an employee of places at the airport that do not require a security badge, like a hotel or gas station on the airport's campus, Dubee said.

Dubee could not comment on the investigation into how the man got onto the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Austin police and the airport are investigating the incident, he said.

The incident is being treated as a breach of security. In the last decade, five security breaches have been recorded at the airport, Dubee said.

One incident involved a person who led law enforcement officials on a vehicle chase and ended up climbing over a fence near a wooded area off Emma Browning Avenue.

Four other incidents involved an unauthorized person in the airport's Air Operations Area, where aircrafts are parked, Dubee said. In those cases, the people were found to be unauthorized, were removed and arrested by Austin police, Dubee said.

The man involved in Thursday's incident was farther out on the runway and not close to the airport building.

"This type of thing is defined as a runway incursion," Dubee said. "This is the first time we've ever had a security breach of this nature."

The airport, citing security reasons, declined to comment on what changes to procedures it is or is not taking following the incident.


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